It’s been a little over a year since the last album from Unknown Component, the recording project of Keith Lynch. I liked the last release, The Infinite Definitive, enough to recommend it. I think I like Blood v. Electricity a little more. If nothing else, I’m happy that it’s not more of the same, as is often the case when I review a band and then they send me another album. This album is a bit moodier and musical than UC’s previous record.
This is a hard record to define, really. A lot of it is atmospheric and haunting, while a few songs come off perfectly well as flat out good rock tunes. When “Intuition” first kicked things off, it reminded me a lot of Muse with a darker tinge to it, but it quickly reveals itself to be more in line with the xx’s debut album with the acoustic guitar and electronic synths behind it. Lynch’s voice blends into this mix quite well, he uses it more hypnotically on this album. The songs are almost lined up in a way that creates a feeling of falling deeper and deeper into his world.
“Nowhere Is Alone” has a riff that makes me think of Smashing Pumpkins, but that goes out the window pretty quickly. Lynch really lets his vocals go here, like he can’t restrain them any longer. The deep baritone of his voice gives way to the higher range without struggle, and he explores the register for the chorus. This is the point in the record where I knew I was going to like it.
Blood v. Electricity is a lot more accessible to a new listener than The Infinite Definitive because of songs like “Pendulum.” It’s not something I would ever expect to hear on a radio or television show, but it is built with that kind of structure.
The following two songs, “Sensory Deprivation” and “Moral Vultures” share the same pop sensibility as “Pendulum.” “Vultures” even has a dance beat behind it that makes it stand out from the rest of the album.
“For All Intents & Purposes” acts as a segue from these more upbeat pop/rock songs back down into the deep abyss of haunting ambience that exists in the final act of Blood v Electricity, kicked off by “Dust & The Shadows.”
All of Lynch’s abilities come together on the short but sweet “Through The Surface.” The vocals are fantastic, but he also gets to show off some nice mixing skills with the just-under-the-surface synths and beats that drive the song onward and upward. It’s a great album closer that really brings all the themes and dynamics to a head and gives the listener some satisfying closure.
If I have one issue with the record, it’s that I think a couple songs could be cut. It covers some of the same ground in a couple tracks, and I feel like it takes away from the power of the record. That isn’t to say the songs I would cut are bad songs, just too much of a good thing (maybe they could have been bonus tracks or b-sides that could be released later). Other than that minor quibble, I think Blood v. Electricity is a very strong album. The best I’ve heard in a couple weeks (best new album I’ve listened to since the latest Titus Andronicus album) and I listen to a lot of music. That Keith Lynch does all this on his own is impressive. Do yourself a favor and check him out.